Ford Focus RS Mk1 – When To Replace the Timing Belt?

Changing the timing belt (cambelt) at or before the correct interval is one of the most important things you can do on your Ford Focus RS Mk1. If you don’t replace the belt regularly and it snaps it will almost certainly lead to catastrophic damage and a very expensive repair bill. In this guide we are going to cover how often you need to change the belt, what happens when it breaks, and more.  

Does the Focus RS Mk1 Have Timing Belt or Chain?

As you can probably guess from the title of this article the Ford Focus RS Mk1 has a timing belt and not a chain.

When Does the Timing Belt Need to Be Replaced on a Focus RS Mk1?

Credit: Ford

While Ford recommends that you change the belt every 160,000 km (100,000 miles) or every 10 years, it is generally recommended that you replace it quite a bit earlier at every 100,000 km (60,000 miles) or five years (many owners will do it even earlier at 3 years). This is because the belt tensioner often fails well before the belt itself and if you replace the tensioner, you want to replace the belt as well.

What Happens if the Timing Belt Breaks on a Focus RS Mk1?

The Duratec 2.0-litre turbocharged engine inside the Focus RS Mk1 is an interference engine, so if the belt or tensioner fails the pistons and valves will get mashed together, leading to catastrophic damage. This is because there is not enough space for the pistons and valves to clear each other on an interference engine.

The extent of the damage if a belt or tensioner failure occurs can vary, but a full engine rebuild or replacement is almost always required.

What Else Should be Replaced with the Timing Belt?

You should replace the following components when changing the timing belt on a Ford Focus RS Mk1:

  • Timing belt tensioner pulley
  • Water pump
  • Timing belt idler pulley
  • Valve gasket cover
  • Spark plugs
  • Filters (air, oil, etc.)

To Sum Up

Credit: Ford

The timing belt should be replaced at least every100,000 km (60,000 miles) or 3 to 5 years, despite Ford’s service manual stating it can go further. The Duratec engine is an interference engine, so if the belt or tensioner fails it will almost certainly lead to catastrophic damage. Lastly, the belt tensioner, idler pulley, water pump, valve gasket cover, spark plugs, and filters should be replaced with the timing belt on the Focus RS Mk1 (definitely the first three, but some owners do the other ones at a different interval).


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

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